White on White

Last week I came across a new word. “Flocking.” I was doing the photos to go with a business story on a local Christmas tree provider. One of the images was of an employee flocking a tree: this is the process of applying fake snow to the branches and needles. Basically what they do is coat the tree with what looks like white adhesive dust recreating the look of a tree after snowfall. Well, after three nights of dense fog and freezing temperatures Northwest Montana has been flocked.

Actually, when it’s a weather phenomena it’s called hoarfrost which the dictionary defines as: a deposit of ice crystals formed in the same manner as dew except that the temperature of the objects on which it forms must be below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, and the dew point temperature of the air must also be below the freezing mark.

Everything is covered in the most perfect and delicate ice crystals. It’s beautiful. And the roads are clear-ish. As opposed to covered in feet of snow. Yeah!

I love living in Montana. Despite the snow-infested winters, I am still awestruck by the wild beauty of this place. This winter I have been thinking of a theme I wish to pursue. The idea for it came from a song I remember from my high school days called Round Here by the Counting Crows. The song begins with ghosts and fog and the lines: “into the fog where no one notices the contrast of white on white.” I’ve held onto this image in my mind of taking photos that are almost nothing. It’s hard to explain. There isn’t a lot of contrast in snow. I have the distinct impression that this is going to be either great or terrible. There is never any in between with ideas like this one. I mean really some of these photos may well end up looking exactly like a blank sheet of paper. (Then again, I might be able to label it “modern art” and sell the collection for billions).

I’m not exactly certain where this is going to lead, but the one thing I know it will provide is a solid reason to be out and exploring this winter wonderland I’ve relocated to. Much as I despise the cold, hibernation isn’t really a feasible option for me. After all, in Montana winter runs from October to April. And up in the mountain passes the snow sticks around until July. So I have to find a way to adapt and hopefully learn to enjoy.

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